From IceHogs to Blackhawks: Who’s Next Up?
Another impressive win by the IceHogs on Saturday has them at a 2-0 series lead on the Manitoba Moose.
It was a 4-1 win on Saturday with Colin Delia being the 1st star of the game.
I don't know who was responsible for scouting and signing Delia but after the year he's had, it appears that he may have given the Blackhawks a boost to their goaltending depth.
I think people should pump the brakes on putting Delia in their armchair GM lineups for 2018-19, but another solid season in the AHL could very well give the Hawks some options.
Who else could be an option for the Blackhawks in the next couple of seasons from this Rockford IceHogs team? Well that's a bit of a loaded question because, as I've mentioned recently, I still think there are multiple moves and ways that this Hawks team "re-shapes" over the next 6-12 months.
However, here is a quick overview of how I can see current Hogs making their way into the Blackhawks lineup either this fall, sometime in the 2018-19 season or 2019-20:
* John Hayden – from all I've heard, Hayden will be a staple for the Blackhawks next year as they shift into their youth movement. I would be shocked if he's not on the team next year as the Hawks need more Hayden's not less.
As this season ended, I heard that the Hawks would love to see him as a power winger style on a line with a couple of the other younger players. Not only would he add grit and net-front presence, he could act as a "bodyguard" for guys like Debrincat, Sikura and Schmaltz (who… he was spending a bit of time with at the end of the year.)
* Gustav Forsling – the forgotten dman is still working on his craft in Rockford. The Hawks admitted he wasn't ready for the NHL when he came up but that experience, along with the time in the AHL is going to really benefit him.
I heard the Hawks defence is a "fluid situation" heading into the offseason and it could look a little different in October. Forsling is just turning 22 years of age this summer, so the Hawks won't hesitate to keep him and his 2-way contract in the minors to start the season, but my guess is that he's not there long.
* Andreas Martinsen – the 27-year old Norwegian is a UFA this summer, but the Hawks are taking a long look to keep him around. He's wearing a letter for the IceHogs and has impressed Jeremy Colliton since he arrived with his work ethic and physicality.
* David Kampf – his 46-game stint with the Blackhawks speaks a lot to what Quenneville and management thought of the young-Czech, however, I don't think he's a for sure thing for the Hawks come October – there are other factors that could come into play.
I have heard that the Hawks could be revamping their Centre position this offseason with Anisimov's name coming up again to move. If they do move AA, they will not go with inexperienced ‘Hogs or players out of their position to fill the void – they will look to sign or trade for replacement(s).
I wouldn't be surprised to see Kampf in the lineup game #1 (his faceoff ability has really helped his cause as well) but I wouldn't be shocked to see him in the AHL. The Hawks know he can handle the NHL so he would be one of the 1st call-ups if a C is needed.
* Adam Clendening – he appeared to be a throw-in in the Panik/Duclair deal, but has been really great on the scoresheet and in the dressing room for the IceHogs. He's also a RHD with NHL experience so don't be surprised to see him resigned to a deal. The ‘Hogs/Hawks have a plethora of LHD so this would make sense.
* Luke Johnson – anytime a coach plays you in all situations and gushes over you in interviews, you know there's something about this specific player. Colliton is digging Luke Johnson's game and has really rewarded him this year.
Johnson has the chops to be a bottom-6 C/W in the NHL with his hockey IQ, stature (5'11 / 200 lbs) and work ethic. The former 5th rounder in 2013 had a frustrating year last year (as most IceHogs did) but has looked like a reinvigorated leader on this team.
Keep in mind these are just a few players that I wanted to / heard about from sources. I will continue to dig into the Hawks roster next year where guys like Ejdsell and Highmore could come up.
Next Hoggers game is on Wednesday in Rockford. I will have a preview then.
See you out there!